The annual migration of seasonal employees to Whistler is underway, as thousands of newcomers arrive with their bags of luggage and set about finding places to live, jobs and friends to share the season with. It can take some time to find your bearings, and even longer to realize that there's a vibrant, fun and supportive community behind all the hotels and stores.
To help newcomers get into the swing of things quicker, the Whistler Community Services Society (WCSS) has been hosting Welcome Week since 2003. This year's Welcome Week runs from Nov. 15 to 20.
"It definitely has grown," said Claire Mozes, who is helping to coordinate the week through WCSS. "We're seeing a lot more interest and people are approaching us to ask how they can get involved this year.
"It's an event to welcome new people to town, first and foremost - and to provide them with some cheap entertainment and food to get settled in, and not break their budgets in the first week. More important, it's a chance to connect to locals and see the community that's here, so they will realize how Whistler can be their home, even if they're only here for six months - and really get into the spirit of being here."
Welcome Week is also an opportunity to get information into the hands of newcomers, such as where to go for drug and alcohol issues and the affordability and support programs that are in place.
WCSS welcomes any sponsorship or support for the event and is still recruiting table hosts for the annual Welcome Week Dinner. Local chefs are volunteering their time to prepare meals for newcomers with food provided by the WCSS. Long-term residents are asked to host tables for the evening. Each table will have two locals (or more, if families take part) and up to six newcomers.
"The idea is just to get them oriented to Whistler, answer questions, let them know where to get groceries, where to get their skis tuned," said Mozes. "Hopefully this helps the newcomers get settled in a little more quickly and they will have a happier and healthier time in Whistler."
The week's schedule includes:
Monday, Nov. 15
The first welcome events kick off on Monday with a pancake breakfast and fundraiser at the Whistler Fire Hall (corner of Blackcomb Way and Village Gate Boulevard) sponsored by Whistler's Millennium Rotary group. Donations from the event will go towards the cost of other Welcome Week events.
The grills will be fired up from 10 a.m. to noon. A plate of pancakes and juice is priced at $3.